Hampi is a village in Karnataka which is also the site of the capital of the once magnificent Vijayanagar empire. This city of ruins which is recognised as a World Heritage Site lies on the banks of the Tungabhadra River with many a palace and fort.
Constructed in 1336 AD, Hampi was known for its temples, forts, markets and many monuments. Hampi is sadly a classic case of a city reaching its highest point of glory and then suddenly declining to reach a state of utter neglect.
Hampi was a very famous religious centre of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire, as it was the site of the Virupaksha Temple along with many other monuments. It is also sacred place for the Hindus as it is 'Pampakshethra' or home of Pampa who was the daughter of Brahma. This temple has a 120 ft tall tower near the east entrance along with statues of Lord Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneshwari Devi. Most of the ruins in Hampi are of temples of the erstwhile empire, of which Malyavantha Raghunathaswamy temple built in Dravidian architectural style is an important one.
It is also home to many exquisite structures each with its own story to tell. Some were built out of devotion like the many temples found here whereas other structures were built to commemorate the victory of its many kings. The other important monuments in Hampi are the temples of Hazara Ramaswamy, Vijaya Vittala, the monolithic statue of Ugra Narasimha and the beautiful carvings in the premises.
The best way to see these monuments is to talk through the streets of Hampi.
Other than the above mentioned monuments and temples, Hampi is also home to many other tourist spots like the Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Akka Thangi Gudda, Anegondi, Anjaneyadri hill, Zenena enclosure, King’s Balance, elephant stables, Yeduru Basavanna, Yentrodharaka and Anjaneya temple.
In its prime, Hampi was a thriving commercial centre known for its gems and well bred horses. Now its economy mainly thrives on mining, agriculture and also tourism.
Hampi also hosts several cultural and religious festivals annually. Out of these, the most celebrated is the Vijaya Utsav also popularly known as Hampi Festival. It is held for three days during the month of November. This cultural extravaganza that attracts many tourists from all across the globe showcases special puppetry shows, music and dance followed by a dazzling display of pyrotechnics and a procession marking the end of the festival.